Archive for August, 2017

Webster Ave review…August 31, 2017…

WEBSTER AVE

DAYLIGHT

THIS ANGRY WORLD–SING ME A SAD LINE–RONNIE O–MIDNIGHT SUN–DAYLIGHT–NEVER SURRENDER–WHENEVER–BAD THING–NEVER TENDER YOUR GOODBYES–AIN’T THAT A SHAME–TO BE A CHILD–MY POOR HEART–HEAVEN KNOWS–JUST DON’T NEED THE RAIN

Webster Ave consists of three veteran players from the Northeast.  They have just released “Daylight,” fourteen originals that are as varied and eclectic as the populations of the areas they call home.  On strings and vocals, there is David Webster.  He is a native of Worcester, MA, who moved to New York in 1973.  His love for Hendrix, Clapton, B. B., and others served him well as an in-demand studio player.  Andrew Caturano is on drums, having studied at the prestigious Manhattan School Of Music.  And, on bass, is Tony Mercadante, who grew up singing on street corners in the Bronx, not far from the real Webster Ave.

On these compositions, the trio brings all their influences into the mix, and they are also not afraid to back down from hot-button societal topics.   David, as a young man, played with a number of reggae artists, and the story of “Ronnie O” effectively captures that skipped-beat pattern perfectly.  “Sing Me A Sad Line” employs a horn section of Joe Meo and Jamie Finegan, and the lush arrangement herein goes down as smooth as anything from the vaults of 926 E. McLemore.  The fellows take a look at life when stuff was a whole lot simpler, and we all oughta stop and look at what is was like “To Be A Child.”  The set closes on a  strong note of positivity, as “we all need a helping hand sometime,” and we “Just Don’t Need The Rain.”  Andrew and Tony handle the vocals on this one.

The socially-conscious cuts served as our favorites.  Crime in the streets and the tragedies that accompany it is the theme of “Bad Thing.”  The stinging horn-fed funk of “Ain’t That A Shame” belies the subject matter of daily indignations where the innocent are made to suffer.  And,  the leadoff  cut puts a harsh stamp on the current state of affairs in this country, as it has morphed into “This Angry World.”

The trio of Webster Ave has taken blues, jazz, funk, soul, reggae, and anything else you can think of and turned them all into the melting pot that is “Daylight.”  It is a brilliant, ebullient debut, indeed!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

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Casey James review…August 28, 2017…..

CASEY JAMES

STRIP IT DOWN

ALL I NEED–BULLETPROOF (DUET WITH DELBERT MCCLINTON)–HARD TIMES, HEARTACHES, AND SCARS–HURT ME MORE–I GOT TO GO–MESSIN AROUND–STRIP IT ALL DOWN–NEED YOUR LOVE SO BAD–DIFFERENT KIND OF LOVE–SUPERNATURAL–KILLIN MYSELF–MAKIN UP–STUPID CRAZY (FEAT. BONNIE BISHOP)–FIGHT YOU FOR THE BLUES

Casey James is a fine bluesman from Ft. Worth, Texas, who had a good run  during the ninth season of “American Idol,” eventually finishing third overall.  As anyone who’s watched “Idol” or any of its contemporaries knows, sometimes an artist has to make compromises with who he is in order to please the judges, (which, during Casey’s run, included Simon Cowell and Ellen DeGeneres), as well as the voting viewers.  It happened to Casey again with his record label, and they finally parted ways.  But, things have a way of working out, and Casey has just released “Strip It Down.”  The fourteen cuts herein are mostly Casey’s originals, either written wholly or in part by Casey, which finally let him do things his way, and returns him to his blues roots.

That’s the sheer fun of the whole project.  On here, Casey cuts loose on his guitar, and that smoky vocal style that won over many “Idol” viewers is on full display.  Plus, he gets by with a little help from some good friends, too, including producer and drummer Tom Hambridge, Tommy McDonald on bass, Kevin McKendree on keys, and the Muscle Shoals Horns on a couple of cuts.

The party starts off on a funky note with a song about being thankful for what you’ve got.  Hey–“I might not be a rich man, but I got All I Need.”  The horns add spice to the soul-blues ode to perseverance, ’cause there’s always gonna be some “Hard Times, Heartaches, And Scars.”

The title cut finds two lovers literally down at their own version of the Crossroads, as Casey implores her to “Strip It All Down” and go back to how “it used to be, before that fire burns out!”  This one bristles with a huge dose of Southern-rock passion, as does his brilliant read of Little Willie John’s “Need Your Love So Bad.”  He closes the set with a trip deep down to the Delta, with the plumb nasty slide of “Fight You For The Blues, ’cause nothin’ worth having  ever came free.”

We had two favorites, too.  Kevin McKendree goes into full-tilt Killer mode on the pounding boogie of of the very best thing about fighting with your lover, “Makin’ Up.”  And, sometimes you just want to go where “the music’s up waaay too loud,” and get a little “Bulletproof.”   The iconic Delbert McClinton is Casey’s duet partner here.

Since he’s no longer bound by anyone’s visions  of what he oughta be, Casey James has busted loose with a mighty fine set of roadhouse rockers and soul-drenched love songs.  He’s just like a stick of dynamite with the fuse sho’ nuff lit, so, watch out, fans, for “Strip It Down!!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Doug Macleod review…August 27, 2017….

DOUG MACLEOD

BREAK THE CHAIN

REFERENCE RECORDINGS   RR-141

GOIN’ DOWN TO THE ROADHOUSE–MR BLOOZEMAN–LONESOME FEELING–TRAVEL ON–LA–THE SIREN IN THE WEST–ONE FOR TAMPA RED–WHAT THE BLUES MEANS TO ME–THIS ROAD I’M WALKING–WHO’S DRIVING THIS BUS–CHURCH STREET SERENADE–GOING HOME–BREAK THE CHAIN

Nobody can tell a tale quite like Doug Macleod.  Whether you are listening to his blues stylings or reading his printed words for publications such as “Living Blues,” you’ll know ol’ Dubb is quick with a quip and the turn of a lyric.  Now, he’s fresh off a win back in May at the Blues Awards in Memphis for Best Acoustic Artist, and his latest set for Reference Recordings keeps that momentum going,

“Break The Chain” features twelve all-original looks at some good-time blues mixed with some cuts geared to make you think.  Along with Doug on guitars and vocals, we have Jimi Bott on drums, Oliver Brown on percussion, Denny Croy on doghouse bass, and Doug’s son, Jesse, adding duet vocals on one fine cut.

The party starts with a juke joint rocker urging you to get that @@@ off the couch and head straight “Down To The Roadhouse, down where the lonely belong.” “Mr. Bloozeman” takes a good-natured look at all us wanna-be’s that couldn’t carry a tune in a #10 bucket, while “One For Tampa Red” is a sweet instrumental Doug plays on his National Style O, affectionately-named “Owl.”

Ol’ Dubb also knows a thing or two about what Blind Willie Johnson was puttin’ down, and he gives us a couple of fine gospel-blues numbers with “Travel On,” and a stirring a cappella version of “Going Home.”  The set closes in a similar tone,  with Doug’s duet with Jesse, where, no matter what’s holding us down, we all have the power to “Break The Chain.”

We had two favorites, too, about as opposite as two songs can be.  “Lonesome Feeling” is one of the darkest shades of blues there is, as Doug sings of the loneliness that overtakes you when “you can’t make right what you did wrong.”  And, Doug rides an “endless boogie” riff for a tongue-in-cheek story about the state of this country today, “Who’s Driving This Bus?– it ain’t one of us!”

Doug Macleod believes, as do many of the old-school bluesmen, that the blues is the truth, and the natural facts of life.  He encourages all of us to keep an open sense of humor as we travel life’s highway, and “Break The Chain” spells it all out for all his fans.  Dubb, we love you!    Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow,  The Nashville Blues Society.

Steve Howell and Jason Weinheimer review…August 24, 2017….

STEVE HOWELL

AND JASON WEINHEIMER

A HUNDRED YEARS FROM TODAY

OUT OF THE PAST MUSIC

LULU’S BACK IN TOWN–KANSAS CITY BLUES–GOING BACK TO FLORIDA–LOUIS COLLINS–A HUNDRED YEARS FROM TODAY–GOT THE BLUES, CAN’T BE SATISFIED–BASIN STREET BLUES–LIMEHOUSE BLUES/AFTER YOU’VE GONE–WHO’S BEEN HERE?–ROCKING CHAIR

Texan Steve Howell is one of the premier finger-pickers on the contemporary acoustic scene and one of our favorite storytellers in all blues.  With a voice that is the embodiment of laid-back front-porch pickers, he joins forces with renowned bassist and producer Jason Weinheimer for ten all-acoustic numbers that mix traditional country blues and New Orleans jazz.  It is entitled, “A Hundred Years From Today,” with virtually all the songs nearing the century mark in age.  The lone young ‘un is Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Going Back To Florida,” circa 1959.

Steve and Jason lead off with one of our all-time favorites, a tune popularized by Fats Waller,  “Lulu’s Back In Town.”  Steve stays true to the original read on the title cut, having learned it from one of his musical heroes, trombonist-vocalist Jack Teagarden.  It deals with sharing your love in the now, for no one will know, “A Hundred Years From Today.”

Steve’s passion for the stylings of Mississippi John Hurt shows thru on two different cuts.  “Got The Blues, Can’t Be Satisfied,” is an uptempo number dealing with a cheatin’ lover, while the stark “Louis Collins” leans slightly toward the gospel side, as the poignant murder tale is presented herein as a tribute to those who have lost children.

We had two favorites, at the opposite ends of the blues spectrum, and they close the set.  Bo Carter’s “Who’s Been Here since your daddy’s been gone?,” follows in the bawdy footsteps of the Mississippi Sheiks’ best material, delivered here by Steve with a light-hearted touch.  And, a somber look at aging thru the eyes of a father and son is tastefully played by Steve and Jason, as, inevitably, that ol’ “Rockin’ Chair” is going to beckon.  Steve also learned this one from versions by Hoagy Carmichael, Louis Armstrong, and Jack Teagarden.

Sets such as this one from Steve Howell and Jason Weinheimer are indeed welcomed.  Both are versed in the styles of the country-blues players, as well as traditional jazz masters.  “A Hundred Years From Today” deftly preserves the past with a nod to the future.  Thanks, guys!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Otis Clay review…August 22, 2017….

OTIS CLAY

TRUTH IS (PUTTING LOVE BACK INTO THE MUSIC)

ECHO RECORDS  ECCD 358

LOVE’S AFTER ME–EVEN NOW–I THOUGHT YOU KNEW–ALL THAT IS MISSING IS YOU–WALK A MILE IN MY SHOES–TRUTH IS–I KNOW I’M OVER YOU–EVEN WHEN I WIN (SEEMS LIKE I LOSE)–STEAL AWAY TO THE HIDEAWAY (FEAT. UVEE HAYES)–I KEEP TRYING (NOT TO BREAK DOWN)–THAT’S WHAT YOU OUGHT TO DO–THE ONLY WAY IS UP–ALL THAT’S MISSING IS YOU (EPILOGUE)–MESSING WITH MY MIND (BONUS TRACK)

Otis Clay may best be known for recording the original version of “Trying To Live My Life Without You,”  for Hi Records in 1972, and brought to the national spotlight by Bob Seger’s 1981 cover.  But, blues and soul-blues fans knew that Otis Clay’s roots ran much deeper.  Like many of his contemporaries from the Sixties and Seventies, Otis had a strong gospel background that served him well in his secular career.

For his Echo Records release, “Truth Is (Putting Love Back Into The Music),”  Otis combines soul and blues with all the fire and passion that he can muster over these fourteen cuts.  An extra added attraction is sax icon Gene “Daddy G” Barge as guest saxman.

There are highlights aplenty.  The set starts with the smooth midtempo groove of “Love’s After Me,” even tho our hero has trouble finding the words to tell his paramour his true feelings.  A man that has it all–“a nice house, swimming pool, and stacks of cash” realizes that “All That’s Missing Is You.”  A little later, the staccato guitar lines and punchy horns spice up the tale of a couple who hit rock bottom, but, thru their love, they know “The Only Way Is Up.”

We had two favorites, too.  Otis and Uvee Hayes revisit the classic Mr. And Mrs. Untrue theme, as these two  lovers head to the dark end of the street to “Steal Away To The Hideaway.”  And, a man hittin’ in bad luck is the theme of the most straight-blues cut on the album, the funky “Even When I Win (Seems Like I Lose),” with a shout-out to and subsequent fine guitar solo from Paul Richmond.

Sadly, this legendary soul man passed away on January 8, 2016, but his memory will live on in our hearts as long as good music is played.   Plain “Truth Is,” Otis Clay was one of the greats!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Savoy Brown review…August 21, 2017…..

SAVOY BROWN

WITCHY FEELIN

RUF RECORDS

WHY DID YOU HOODOO ME–LIVING ON THE BAYOU–I CAN’T STOP THE BLUES–WITCHY FEELIN–GUITAR SLINGER–VINTAGE MAN–STANDING IN A DOORWAY–MEMPHIS BLUES–CAN’T FIND PARADISE–THUNDER, LIGHTNING, AND RAIN–CLOSE TO MIDNIGHT

Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown were one of the pioneers of the British Invasion blues bands during the Sixties, and, arguably, were the most successful, due to their brilliant original material and tireless work ethic.  Simmonds’ original vision for this band was for them to become a British version of a Chicago blues band, and he holds to that ideal today, some fifty years further on up the road.

With more than thirty albums under the name Savoy Brown, we are proud to present our review for their latest, “Witchy Feelin,” for Ruf Records.  Along with Kim on guitar and vocals, we have Pat Desalvo on bass, and Garnet Grimm on drums over the course of eleven original forays into the scorching blues-rock for which this band has long been noted.

Another thing that listeners will notice on this set are the cuts that deal with the hoodoo, voodoo, and all-around Crossroads vibe that permeate them.  Check out the leadoff tale of a lover with a genuine “gypsy streak,” in “Why Did You Hoodoo Me?”  A bit later, that question is answered when his lover up and leaves, and our hero “Can’t Stop The Blues,  you been gone too long.”  This one is augmented by  snarling, call-and-response guitar lines.  A  greasy slide riff rocks “Memphis Blues,” as Kim is hell-bent on getting outta that town and leave all its bad memories behind.

We had several favorites.  Kim jammed with Jimi back in the day, and, as we are amid the 50th anniversary of “Voodoo Chile,” Kim offers up his own eight-minute wah-wah workout, the brooding “Thunder, Lightning, And Rain.”  Kim’s 1969 meeting with Rory Buchanan in a bar “on the back roads to nowhere” becomes the story of the “Guitar Slinger gettin’ down,” while “Vintage Man” is written for those who do not change as they age, from their ’57 Chevy to the soles of their blue suede shoes!

Kim Simmonds is always on the lookout for another mountain to scale, even after decades of doing what he loves.  On “Witchy Feelin,” every note of every song  seems like it fits just right,  and the legacy of Savoy Brown continues to grow!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Bill Toms And Hard Rain review….August 20, 2017….

BILL TOMS AND HARD RAIN

GOOD FOR MY SOUL

TERRAPLANE RECORDS

I’D BE A RICH MAN TODAY–BACK TO MEMPHIS–NOTHING LIKE MY BABY–DEVIL’S TRAIN–HARD TO SAY GOODBYE–WORKIN–I’M SAD NO MORE–INTO THE STORM–YOUR LOVE IS GOOD FOR MY SOUL–I’M GOING HOME–DESPERATE TIMES

Bill Toms has been on the scene for a good while, fans.  He started out as lead guitarist for Joe Grushecky And The Houserockers, based outta Pittsburgh, back in 1987, and they opened for anybody who was anybody that played SteelTown back in the day.  Heck–their “American Babylon” set from 19995 was produced by Springsteen himself!

Bill’s ninth full-length release finds him working with his band, Hard Rain, and it is entitled “Good For My Soul,” for Terraplane Records.  He’s taken the Stax-Motown-Philly soul that he grew up listening to and turned it into the eleven songs herein that embody the sound and feeling from that era.  Add to that the fact that he mixes it all with a healthy dose of gospel that would make Curtis Mayfield proud.

This set was produced by Rick Witkowski and Will KImbrough, who adds slide, mandolin, and backing vocals throughout the mix.  You can’t deny the spirit that fills these grooves.  Bill has one of those gravelly, “last-stop-before-Joe-Cocker” vocal styles, and he really gets into the groove of the leadoff tale of a lover,, who,  “if I had a penny for all the pain, I’d Be A Rich Man Today.”  He digs deep into an Otis Redding groove for “Goin’ Back To Memphis,” and extols the virtues of his lover on the breezy, summertime soul of “Nothing Like My Baby.”  “Workin” is a shout-out to all his steel mill brothers, “doin’ it every day to try and pay the bills.”

Two of the more “sanctified” cuts served as our favorites.  “I’m Sad No More” is pure, unadulterated, hand-clapping, foot-stompin, AMEN-shoutin’ Sunday morning joy,  while “I’m Going Home” is a slow-blues cut with brush-stroked drums and a moral, as, even tho the subject “feels the noose on my skin,”  he also finds redemption with “peace in the Glory.”

Bill Toms, along with Steve Binsberger, who is on keys throughout, wrote all eleven of the cuts on this set.  Trust us, fans—Bill and the fellows of Hard Rain make this one sho’ nuff  “Good For My Soul,” and everyone else’s, too!   Until next time…..Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.